Updated: February 5, 2021 3:06:57 am
India is ready to supply military equipment, including missiles and tanks, to countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday. The statement comes at a time when India is trying to boost the domestic defence manufacturing industry. Also, Singh’s comments come a day after he said India can be a “net security provider” in the IOR and is a “reliable partner” in the region.
Speaking at the Defence Ministers’ Conclave of IOR nations, on the sidelines of Aero India, Singh said in his keynote address that Indian aerospace and defence industries “present an attractive and significant opportunity for foreign companies across the supply chain to take their cooperation to newer levels”.
“India is ready to supply various types of missile systems, light combat aircraft, helicopters, multi-purpose light transport aircraft, warship and patrol vessels, artillery gun systems, tanks, radars, military vehicles, electronic warfare systems and other weapons systems to IOR countries,” he said.
Singh said that being the “largest country and having a vast coastline of 7500 kms in the IOR region”, India has to “play an active role for peaceful and prosperous co-existence of all IOR countries”.
He said “we all have a shared asset, that is, the Indian Ocean” and it is an “important lifeline to international trade and transport as it commands control of major sea-lanes carrying half of the world’s container ships, one third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two thirds of the world’s oil shipments”.
“Due to its geostrategic location” in the IOR, India has “enjoyed historical and cultural ties with the littoral states”, Singh said, and added that India has been “at the forefront of a regional cooperation initiative of the Indian Ocean Rim countries”.
He stated that the present maritime security scenario in IOR “is posing a number of challenges such as piracy, smuggling of drugs, people and arms, humanitarian and disaster relief, and search and rescue”. Maritime collaboration and co-operation among IOR countries, Singh stressed, “can help meet these challenges effectively and efficiently and ensure peace and stability in the Indian Ocean Region”.
The IOR nations “have to join hands in looking at these threats in unison, because one’s threat today may be another’s tomorrow”, he said.
“We have already seen the negative impact of conflicting claims in some maritime areas of the world. We must, therefore, ensure that the maritime expanse of the Indian Ocean is peaceful and is optimally harnessed for the benefit of all nations in the region.” Singh said.
Later, speaking during a seminar organised by the Navy on the IOR, Singh highlighted the global geopolitical and commercial significance of the Indian ocean, and mentioned that 75 per cent of global trade and 50 per cent of daily global transfers already pass through the region.
Uninterrupted access to the open seas and respect for the international law was essential for stability and security in the region, he said, and stated that “in order to ensure collective growth and prosperity, it is imperative that we build competence in the maritime domain, on a collective basis”.
While 28 nations were invited for the conclave, 26 of them attended it either physically or in virtual mode, with defence ministers, ambassadors or other officials representing them.
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